A knitting trip around the world …

Thank you Lara, Carson, Roxie, Gemma, Willow, Kathy, Dianne and Emma for stepping up to the challenge! Your names are in the hat!

I had to refer to the atlas for Roxie – talk about the geographically ignorant! I always thought Oregon was somewhere in the middle of the US – about where Dakota turns out to be! And I’m the person who says that Americans are usually very ignorant about the world outside the US (no offence meant, but y’all ask us Aussies some pretty strange questions!) So now that I KNOW where Oregon is, I can say that the closest I have ever been to Orgon was on a shuttle bus en route from Vancouver BC (now I know there is another Vancouver in Oregon!) which passed through Seattle on the way to Bellingham (oh! I’ll never forget the horror of it all- so near,and yet so far from the wonderful yarn shops of Seattle!). And because of the interesting “hub” arrangements of the US domestic airlines, I have flown over Mt St Helens en route to Vancouver from Australia via Los Angeles and Houston! What a flight that was – it felt like we’d left Sydney about 3 weeks before instead of thirty something hours! So I really know very little about Oregon.

Now, Emma from Merdrignac in Brittany in France – Bonjour! (that’s about the extent of my French!) I found Merdrignac on Google Earth and on Google. I may have passed through there in a minibus tour we did in 2000 with a company called Back Roads Touring as we went to Normandy and Brittany before heading back towads the south-east but I think the closest I have been to Merdrignac is St Malo – I have fond memories of St Malo, as I had my hair cut there! I spent an hour or so in the hairdressers, practising my schoolgirl French while half the salon practised their English. It was good fun. The other people in the group went off looking at historical things, but I’m sure my memories are stronger. I was amazed (and probably very naive) at the regional cultural variations in France. The group leader come bus driver was an Englishman, who lived in France most of the time – he spoke fluent French and made sure we were introduced to all the regional specialties in food and drink. He was an outstanding guide. I think his background as a school teacher helped.

Carson comes from the inner western suburbs of Sydney, an area that I got to know when my youngest daughter lived at Stanmore. What a great place to live – close to the city, buses around every corner, coffee shops around every other corner, beautiful old homes, many semi-detached, but a lot of old “mansions” from the 1800s, interesting shopping (I love All Buttons Great and Small at Newtown) and despite the high density of the housing, an amazing variety of wild-life to be seen. I’m really sorry that we didn’t move in towards the city when our daughter was living there, but “old dogs” are hard to shift! And sadly, now that my “old dog” has retired and is involved with lots of locally based things, it would not be a good move.

Now I know the area where Lara hails from. It is not that far from where I live, and I have an amazing knitterly friend called Pia who lives there. She is absolutely delightful and a beautiful knitter to boot. Denistone East is a good place to live – there are buses and trains to the city, good local shopping and and it’s closer to the city than Beecroft. But, Lara says, she is considering a move to Granville. Granville is not that far from Harris Park where I lived when I was first married, but the area has changed greatly since then with an influx of people from middle eastern cultures. So, I must take a trip to Granville soon and wander around to feel and see the changes.

Having asked everyone else to nominate where they live, it’s only fair that I should ‘fess up too. I currently live in Beecroft, a leafy suburb in the north-west of Sydney, but later this year we are moving to Epping, two suburbs closer to the city. Epping is much more densely populated than Beecroft, with many more blocks of home units and some medium rise office buildings.

The shopping centre in Beecroft has a variety of small boutiquey type shops and is a nice place to meet friends for coffee or lunch and a wander around, window shopping. Epping’s shopping centre is much more spread out – the railway line and a main road divide the shopping area into two parts and there aren’t the same number of small boutiques. However, Epping has many restaurants, two opportunity shops (thrift shops to those who don’t speak the Queen’s English!), a branch of the local library, a public swimming pool, and a railway/bus interchange that allows you to travel to many places by public transport quite easily. Where we will be living also has nice long, flat streets for walking as opposed to the mountain we have to climb in Beecroft – perhaps I’ll lose some kilos!

We won’t have the wildlife that we have here and we’ll miss that, nor the privacy which will be hard to lose. I love having all the blinds right up and hate sleeping in a room with the windows covered. We can do that here without any worries about casual passers by looking in, but in Epping we’ll have a street frontage. Our children think we’ll have a lot of trouble adjusting to living so close to other people. I think we’ll have trouble adjusting to living in a much smaller space! I’m cleaning out cupboards, sorting and throwing (and packing!) but hate parting with things like the hundreds of knitting patterns I’ve downloaded from the internet and will never, in my wildest dreams, get knitted. Despite this, I think it is a good move for us, and a timely one. Grandpa Flea turns 68 this year and I’ll be 63. I’ve seen too many people leave the decision to move until someone else has to make it for them. And much as I love and respect my children, I’d rather choose, myself, where I’ll live!

This is turning into a really interesting project – I’m learning so much – I was just looking for some Beecroft photos on the internet and discovered that:
“On the main northern train line from Sydney’s Central Station, Beecroft is a natural bushland village. Within a few kilometres of such attractions as Koala Park, where you can get nose-to-nose with Australia’s cutest marsupial, and Cumberland State Forest, the only metropolitan forest in the southern hemisphere, Beecroft is less than 25 minutes by car from Sydney along the M2 motorway.

The main north rail-line which passes through the suburb offers links to the city, Hornsby, Parramatta and neighbouring suburbs.

The small but compellingly quaint shopping precinct of Beecroft is only minutes from the major commercial centres of Epping, Castle Hill and the Macquarie shopping complex.

Beecroft and neighbouring Cheltenham are rarities in the metropolis that is Sydney. They are just a 20 to 30 minutes drive on the M2 from the heart of Sydney, yet they retain the charm and tranquillity of bushy, elegant country villages.” (Travelmate.com.au) Now, when we moved here 40 years ago, the shopping centre could have been called “quaint” but I wouldn’t use that term these days! And the “elegance” of the “village” as some of the locals like to call it, is fast being knocked down by people who are building fence to fence Mc Mansions. True, there are some absolutely beautiful old homes in Beecroft (not ours!!) but the trend to knock old places down (and all the old trees in the garden) is very disheartening.

I also found on http://www.answers.com that: “Beecroft residents tend to vote conservatively, and for fiscally conservative political parties, while often being socially liberal in their political views. Its leafy, tree-lined steets are reminiscent of a village in the home counties. Some of Sydney’s most historically important houses are found in Beecroft, many of which are distinctively Australian, including several Federation houses on one of Sydney’s oldest and most expensive residential streets, Malton Road.” What a surprise! I will never forget the day the Governor General sacked Gough Whitlam (a reformist Labor Prime Minister in 1972) – I was on canteen duty at the primary school with all the “socially liberal” mothers of the area – they all cheered when the news came through. I ended up having to go home early as I was so upset by their joy!

More tomorrow.

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